A newsletter on progress-space research and audience development for cultural leaders. One reader calls it, "sometimes funny"

I came across a tweet by Aubrey Bergauer that got me up on my feet and pacing the room:

In the one-minute video (watch it), Aubrey says that administrators don’t give enough consideration to the online checkout experience. She’s talking about ticket sales, but the problem also applies to donations or enrollment — any sort of transaction really.

When I’ve written about this in the past, museum directors sometimes write in to tell me they have never thought about the issue before. I remember one list member said (paraphrasing) “If the website checkout process stinks, won’t people just wait to buy when they’re at the museum?”

I’ve never understood the assumption that people will overcome all obstacles to buy/visit — that people will accept an inferior online experience because… Why?

Aubrey encourages organizations to see if they can achieve “all those things we would expect from a good online shopping experience of any brand in any industry.” She’s right — there’s no reason to believe that people set aside their expectations for online transactions to be fast, friendly, and intuitive just because they’ve entered the nonprofit zone.

You can sign up to get letters like this one delivered to your inbox, but first I’ll need your preferred salutation, zip code, home phone, cell phone, and fax number.

Subscribe now

Imagine a marketing director or administrator at a big, for-profit movie theater chain saying, “If the online ticketing process stinks, won’t people just get in their car and drive here to buy tickets?”

I don’t think you would hear that in a meeting at Regal Cinemas. They know that a sale represents a commitment — without the sale, any number of things will interfere with people’s intention to buy.

  • The customer could go to another movie theater website and buy from them instead
  • It could start to snow and the person could decide to spend the afternoon watching Netflix instead
  • On the way to the movie theater, they could stop off for brunch, order a second bloody mary, and decide to take a nap instead of going to the cinema.

An online sale reduces that likelihood of someone succumbs to the temptation of not following through with their planned visit. But, for some reason, folks who work at nonprofits are less likely to appreciate that all those obstacles and alternatives apply to their organization as well.

In the video, Aubrey also recommends asking for as little personal information as possible from the buyer. This is one of the hardest things for people to accept. I’ve made the case for collecting less information from buyers in the past here and there, and I’ve learned that the idea of collecting less information can be hard for people to accept.

If it’s a been a while since you’ve reviewed what it’s like for people to complete revenue-generating tasks through your organization’s website, or if you’ve never implemented a question protocol for transactions, now is the time to start questioning assumptions.

Thanks for reading,



Sign in or sign up to join the conversation.

Enter your email below to get a log in link.

You’ve successfully subscribed to SuperHelpful Letters
Welcome back. You’re now signed in.
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Your link has expired
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign in.